Although it's not universal, urinary incontinence does become more common as we age. According to the Urology Care Foundation, it affects approximately 25-33% of Americans; however, the actual numbers may be higher. Unfortunately, numerous cases remain unreported by individuals who may be embarrassed or assume nothing can be done about their condition.
Yet, involuntary bladder leakage doesn't mean you are destined to remain behind closed doors. Instead, you can stay active and relish life's offerings despite your condition with the proper management strategies, medical treatment, and quality products from Made For Living.
A senior couple walking their bikes on the beach. Many older adults have bladder control issues, but incontinence doesn't need to rule your life.
What Causes Bladder Leakage?
Temporary incontinence can occur to anyone regardless of age. For example, even young adults will sometimes experience short-term bladder leakage brought on by specific medications, infections, or constipation.
Incontinence in older adults tends to be long-term and is typically related to other medical conditions, including:
- A weakening of your bladder muscles or pelvic floor
- An overactive bladder (OAB)
- Damage to the nerves that control your bladder
- Pelvic prolapse
- An enlarged or infected prostate
- Limited mobility, which may prevent you from reaching the bathroom in time
- Alzheimer’s disease
Types of Urinary Incontinence
Not all urinary incontinence is the same, and the way you manage your condition will depend on which of the four main types you have.
Bladder leakage accompanied by a strong need to urinate is called urge incontinence. This condition is triggered by the sound of running water or a moderately full bladder, and it can be worse for individuals with medical conditions like Parkinson’s disease or diabetes.
Stress incontinence is indicated by weak muscles or the absence of muscle coordination in your abdomen, pelvic floor, or bladder. With this condition, urine can leak when you laugh, exercise, cough, or sneeze.
Occasionally people can experience bladder leakage with common bladder control and stronger muscles. For example, a condition like arthritis can lead to functional incontinence if it prevents you from navigating to a bathroom in time to relieve yourself.
If you have trouble emptying your bladder due to a blockage or nerve injury, your partially filled bladder may be more likely to leak. This condition leads to a slow but steady urinary discharge rather than the heavier stream that typically accompanies the other incontinence types.
Talk to Your Doctor About Your Incontinence
You can often treat incontinence, but only if you are willing to talk to your doctor about the issue. Then, they may take steps to resolve the problem, including:
- A physical examination
- Discussing your medical history and the medications you currently take
- Learning about your incontinence triggers
- Ordering blood and urine tests
- Measuring how completely you empty your bladder
- Referring you to a urologist or other specialist
Once your doctor understands your incontinence, they may suggest medical treatment options to treat the underlying condition or alleviate your symptoms. This may include surgical intervention, medications, injections, or devices to stimulate and strengthen your muscles.
Managing Your Incontinence
Your doctor may also recommend actions you can take to circumvent the disruption and embarrassment caused by urinary incontinence. For example, depending on the cause of your leakage, you might benefit from:
- Exercising: When you perform Kegel exercises, you are activating the muscles involved in the act of urination. Strengthening these muscles is especially helpful for those suffering from stress incontinence.
- Reducing liquid intake: Plan for instances when you won't have easy access to a restroom. Drink less than you usually would; however, discuss this strategy with your doctor first to find the right balance and avoid dehydration.
- Bladder training: In some cases, you may be able to train your bladder to hold your urine longer. You can do this by resisting the urge to urinate for a few minutes, then gradually increasing the time interval each time you go.
- A planned urination schedule: You can establish a urination program before you feel the urge. You can even set timers to remind you at the specified time interval. This can help you avoid accidents when your bladder becomes too full.
- Losing weight: Because obesity is often connected to incontinence, losing weight may help restore bladder function.
Additionally, no matter the incontinence type you have, wearing absorbent pads or protective undergarments can give you freedom from constant leakage worries.
The Best Protection Against Urinary Incontinence
Urinary incontinence is often a common part of aging, but you may not have to live with it. Instead, talk to your physician about ways to counteract your bladder leakage type, and turn to Made for Living for the best absorbent undergarments to protect yourself.
We offer a variety of sizes, products, and absorbency levels. Contact us today, and we'll help you select the perfect product to match your lifestyle.